GUWAHATI: The BJP in Meghalaya has challenged Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma of the National People’s Party (NPP) to contest the Assembly elections only from his pet South Tura seat in the Garo Hills
The BJP threw down the gauntlet soon after its state vice president Bernard N Marak had walked out of
jail on bail on Wednesday. He was arrested by the police in July for allegedly running a brothel from his Tura farmhouse “Rimpu Bagan”. Subsequently, some cases, including one under the Arms Act, were registered against him.
BJP state president Ernest Mawrie asked Sangma “not to hedge his career by fighting on two seats” but face the might of Marak in his (CM’s) own backyard – the South Tura seat.
The BJP said Marak was released against all odds and despite the best efforts of the NPP-led government
to keep him under lockup.
“The case against Bernard Marak has no basis or proof. It is a matter of despicable political vendetta. The CM is aware of the rising popularity of Bernard Marak and is scared of losing the people’s mandate
in Tura,” Mawrie said.
He said people have already made up their minds to oust the NPP from power.
“Ernest Mawrie welcomed Bernard Marak and wished him swift recovery from the torments that he may have faced while in custody. Mawrie called Marak a crusader and urged him to continue his fight against the blatant corruption in the system,” the BJP said in a statement.
The BJP has two MLAs in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly and is a constituent of the Meghalaya
Democratic Alliance (MDA) government. However, despite being in the MDA, it trained its gun on the NPP whenever it got an opportunity.
The BJP is banking heavily on Marak, who is a former militant leader-turned-politician, in the Garo
Hills region which has 24 seats. So, when he was arrested, the BJP had sniffed politics. It had alleged
he was framed.
Meghalaya is expected to go to elections in February next year. Apart from the NPP, two other key
players are the regional United Democratic Party and the Trinamool Congress.
The Congress, which emerged as the single largest party in the previous two elections, has got reduced to a shadow of its glorious past.
Twelve of its 17 MLAs had jumped ship last year to wear Trinamool colours. The remaining five – all of them suspended – have more or less ditched the party. They are likely to contest the polls on the tickets of other political parties.